Canada to host regional crisis talks on Venezuela

Friday, October 20, 2017

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OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — Canada will host ministers from a dozen Latin American and Caribbean nations next week for crisis talks aimed at ratcheting up pressure on the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday the October 26 meeting will explore ways to bring an end to the drawn-out political and economic crisis in the oil-rich nation.

"Together with our like-minded partners, we will continue to increase pressure on the Maduro regime," Freeland said.

"Our objective is clear: a peaceful solution to the crisis and the restoration of democracy and human rights for all Venezuelans."

The ministerial meeting will include representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia.

A fierce power struggle has been raging for months between Maduro's left-wing nationalist government and the center-right opposition.

Almost 130 people have died in the unrest since the beginning of April, according to data from human rights activists, and more than 5,000 people have been arrested.

Canada and the United States have imposed sanctions against Venezuela's leadership, calling out its "anti-democratic behavior" following the installation of a loyalist assembly that supersedes the country's opposition-controlled National Assembly.

On Tuesday, Freeland further criticised Venezuela's recent gubernatorial elections, saying the process was characterised by "irregularities."

Maduro responded with an expletive-laced verbal attack on the "insolent" and "stupid government of Canada."

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